Letters to myself

By Chuah Sze Ning

 

Dear Younger Me,

What to expect as I embark on a new adventure of entering medical school

Oh, the places that you’ll go and the people you’ll meet! I remember your eagerness for adventure and excitement for the future as you moved continents with a medical school offer letter in hand. And I can assure you that you’re in for an epic journey. There’ll be plenty of joys and hurts, laughter and tears, but you know and are known by the God who loves and cares for you.

The next 5 years will be a period where all that you’ve learned from Kids Church, youth group, those 2:7 and Experiencing God classes run by your youth counsellors, as well as countless Christian camps will “come to life”. You’ll fully experience God’s Truth in your mind and heart. You’ll know in your spirit that the Lord is with you and He calls you His precious daughter. He intentionally places you in circumstances with people He wants you to be around.  And when you choose to follow Him in faith, He leads and guides you to the next phase or step in those circumstances. You’ll face some painful challenges but you learn to look to Jesus for your hope and comfort. It’s no longer mere head knowledge; the Gospel is real.

Before you become puffed up with pride though, here’s a gentle reminder: You’re where you are, with all that you have, only by God’s grace.

By His grace, He surrounded you with a loving family. Spiritual fathers and mothers have walked with you through your growing years, be it on Fridays at youth group, Sundays at church and through countless worship practices, camps, Christmas carolling/cantata rehearsals over the years. These “church aunties and uncles” have modelled Christ to you intentionally or otherwise. They gave generously (especially car rides), taught and shared a passion for God’s Word, as well as spoke wise counsel and advice on many occasions.

However, there have been moments when you witnessed hypocrisy or sin among adults. Anger, disappointment, and cynicism burn within you.

Bring all that to Jesus. Remember that Christian grown-ups are broken and imperfect like you. You need Jesus just as much as they do too. I’m not making excuses for them, because they’ll need to take responsibility for their actions and choices in their own faith journeys. As for you, extend the grace and mercy that Jesus has shown you.

There are many stories of how God will work in and through your life. He’ll answer your prayer for a godly community and you’ll grow so much through prayer and fellowship with His people. He’ll comfort you when you struggle with inadequacy and rejection. When your heart is broken, He draws you to the living water He provides; teaching you that He alone can satisfy your every need.

Just keep in mind that these are lessons that you’ll learn and relearn for the rest of your life.

There’s much in store for you, Younger Me. Keep seeking after Jesus. I can’t guarantee that He’ll give you the answers you want, but He’ll always give the answers you need.

Yours Sincerely,

ME


 

Dear Older Me,

I’m writing this to you fresh out of medical school and enjoying the break before work life. I don’t know when you’ll see this letter but it’s ok, you will eventually.

You probably think I’ll inundate you with questions about the future. To be honest, of course, I’m curious to know what specialty I’ll pursue, where I’ll live and settle down, who’ll be around me and whatnot. But that’s a topic for another time.

I want to remind you of your uni life. Do you remember the lessons and experiences?

Remember how afraid and unsure you were of adapting to a new culture and environment. Yet by God’s grace, He’s carried you through the transition into a home surrounded by His people. You’ve experienced the contrast of the “wild party” residential college and the “quaint & quiet” sharehouse. You’ve interacted with different people from all walks of life, yet somehow God has placed key people at every stage to encourage you in your journey of faith. Don’t discount these experiences; God can use all of them for the good of His Kingdom.

I can’t thank God enough for how He has grown and moulded you through your everyday moments, especially through your pain. Honestly, I wish you could bypass the hurt. But I’m glad that you’ve learned to grieve with hope in the Lord who never leaves nor forsakes you. You’ve chosen to run closer to Jesus instead of retreat, for the Man of sorrows knows and understands your pain more than anyone else. Besides, Jesus has trained you to have compassion on the broken-hearted, sharing the comfort He has given you.

Enough of sadness, though. Let me remind you of the joy you’ve found in the community. Even though it was daunting initially, I’m so grateful that you’ve learned the importance of honesty and vulnerability with your siblings-in-Christ. Cherish the ‘makan’1)‘Makan’ is the Malay word for ‘eat’, referring to the favourite pastime and passion of all Malaysians, i.e. food, food, glorious food!/movie sessions, ministry meetings, Bible study and prayer nights. These have been pivotal moments in your discipleship. Just as how peers and mentors have invested in your life, I hope you too become a friend who points others to Jesus as you live in obedience to Him.

Older Me, remember how God has been faithful and trustworthy to you. He protected and provided for you as a student. He will continue to do so in your career and beyond. You may have graduated from university but you’ll never graduate from the Gospel. Hold tightly to this Truth and run with it. May you always see Jesus as your greatest treasure, praising and worshipping Him with a new song of faith each day.

Yours truly,

ME


Dear Jesus,

I can speak continuously of Your overflowing love and grace over the past 5 years and how I’ve lost some but gained so much more in knowing You.

But I have a word limit, so I’ll try my best to be succinct.

Lord, thank You for raising me in the church. Some might roll their eyes and sneer at this statement, but the fact is that growing up in Melaka Wesley, Malaysia and Clayton Church of Christ, Melbourne is a real blessing. I’m grateful for the opportunities to love and live with broken people who are being transformed by Your Gospel. It hasn’t been easy with inevitable disagreements and conflicts, but by Your mercy, You enable us to resolve our issues and reconcile. Let not bitterness and selfish judgment take root, Lord. But give us the grace to obey You.

I thank You also for the people You’ve positioned around me over the years. The phrase “Body of Christ” is bandied around constantly among Christians, but after 5 years of medical school, I can now see Your wisdom (and humour) in that Truth! Thank You for showing me more of Yourself through the people I’ve encountered. You’re working in and through each one of them, all for Your glory.

Lastly, Lord, thank You for who You are. Thank You for loving me, removing my sin and making me Your own. You’ve filled me with joy, hope, peace surpassing all understanding. Thank You for bringing me on this life of discovering more of You. In this season I can say with confidence that You truly are Immanuel, God with us.

I want more of You, Lord. May my life song sing only to and for You, all of my days on this side of eternity.

Yours faithfully,

Sze Ning

Self-introduction: Hello, my name is Sze-Ning Chuah. Or “SNing” if you say it fast. And my last name is like a shortened “Chihuahua”. 

Born and bred in historical Melaka, Malaysia. Survived medical school in Monash University, while thriving in my second home in Melbourne. Currently figuring out this doctoring life in the dry golden plains of Bendigo, Central Victoria. Interests include cats, creative arts and chats over coffee. Always looking forward to the next meal and catch up (because food brings people together).  Living the Coram Deo life of learning to walk with Jesus, run by His grace and faith, rest in His mercies and trust in His love. 

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1. ‘Makan’ is the Malay word for ‘eat’, referring to the favourite pastime and passion of all Malaysians, i.e. food, food, glorious food!

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